By Carlee Frank

A few facts about veterinary medicine: Earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) takes four years of rigorous study; there are currently 41 recognized veterinary specialties such as dentistry, ophthalmology and exotic animal practice; and as of 2016, there were nearly 108,000 veterinarians in the United States.    

Luckily enough, those of us in the Springville area don’t have to travel very far in case of a pet illness or annual checkup. Located at 417 Waverly Street, the Springville Animal Hospital provides many animal care services.

“When you go to the veterinarian, you’re getting everything done under one roof,” Dr. Michael Reilly, owner and DVM of the Springville Animal Hospital, said. “I’m diagnosing your pet and taking the x-ray right here; I’m running the blood work here and if I do a urinalysis, I’m doing that here too. And after all of that, I can prescribe the medication, then you’re on your way.”    

The Springville Animal Hospital was opened in 1946 by Dr. Roland Whitehead and his wife, Gerd Whitehead. It was moved to its current location in 1964 as the practice grew. Throughout the following decades, many veterinarians took ownership of the practice, and in 1995, the torch was passed to Dr. Reilly.

Like many young adults, finding his dream career required a series of twists and turns. It began with an interest in engineering, followed by a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and ended with an epiphany.

“I love being a sportsman and I love wildlife so I thought, well, I would love to take care of the deer, hawks and owls,” Dr. Reilly said.

He then pursued a degree in small animal veterinarian medicine at Ross University and Oklahoma State University. He currently works with fellow DVM Dr. Gary Schmitz, a staff of vet technicians and administration coordinators.

“I have some of the best staff now, and the technicians are great. We’re more like family than employees,” Dr. Reilly said.

While his staff is an integral part of the practice, he said the reason they work so hard is for the pets. Roughly 60 percent of patients at the animal hospital are dogs and the other 40 percent are cats. He does not work with exotic animals, but does see some ferrets, hedgehogs and guinea pigs.

The most common reason pets come to the hospital is for annual checkups, vaccinations and surgeries, but many visit for things such as skin issues.

“It’s surprising how many allergies that pets have, and people also don’t always understand the threat of fleas and ticks,” Dr. Reilly said.

Pets will come in with hot spots, chewed spots, parasites and much more. He tries not to let owners leave the premises without flea and tick medicine, especially, he said, with the rising tick problem.

Dr. Reilly added that working with pets means he gets to know their owners. He said he likes knowing everyone on a first name basis. Many of his clients even bring in cookies and treats, or stop at Tim Hortons on their way to bring in donuts.

“This community is fantastic –so many down to earth, good people out here in the country,” Dr. Reilly said.

Owning his own practice means he has control of how he treats his clients. While he noted that some vets can be hard-nosed, he wants pet owners to know he isn’t trying to nickel and dime them. He gives breaks where he can, but as the standard for veterinary medicine increases, so do the prices.

“We used to do everything on a budget –neuters and spays were very reasonable,” Dr. Reilly said.

However, the American Animal Hospital Association and American Veterinary Medical Association have raised the bar on what “good medicine” means. Now vets must perform pre-surgical blood testing on all animals, and every pet must receive post-surgical pain relief.

While Dr. Reilly agrees with these standards, it certainly adds to the bill. This is why he would never sell his practice to corporations that buy out private veterinary clinics across the U.S.

He said he would rather maintain personal relationships with pets and pet owners, and be in charge of the way he treats both.

Springville Animal Hospital is open 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and close at 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and noon on Saturday.

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